Tea at the House of Lords

This is perhaps an unusual blog because most of it is not written by me.  I met Lucky Margaret Nakalembe at a speed networking session organised by the Parliamentary Education Service.  She sat bolt upright, on the edge of her seat and was “in my face” about the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), student fees and my lack of election by the people.  She was passionate, not angry, although some of the other six formers clearly were.  It was good for me to see how many young people do not think that politicians are on their side, nor the media or the police for that matter.

So as Lucky says below, I shoved my card in her hand as I left, and she came in for tea.  It turns out she is thinking of being a writer, so I asked her to write a piece for my blog on her perspective on visiting the House of Lords.  This was the only brief I gave her, so please excuse the references to me.  I found it interesting that she has called it “alien” and that she does not feel politicians care about the little people.  But most importantly, I hope you will see how talented she is and it is a privilege to profile her writing. Do enjoy.

Alien

By Lucky Margaret Nakalembe

As I stepped off the train at London Waterloo station I felt my nerves get the better of me. What was I doing here? I took a deep breath and then took one step and then another and before I knew it I was standing a few feet away from ‘Peers entrance.’

It was a windy day in December, cold too for that matter but I had not bothered to check the weather or anything else that was not related to the time. The time was about to strike half past four, I had one final minute to calm my nerves, to think about the correct way to talk and walk and not forget my manners, not my everyday manners but my House of Lords manners. If someone were to say “How do you do?” I would reply with “How do you do.” If someone were to say “How are you?” I would reply with “Fine thank you.” I could hear my teacher’s voice in my head “Remember Lucky, there is no such thing as a no please. It is either yes please or no thank you.”

It was time. I made my way towards the gate, I could see the entrance and for a split second I was frozen, stuck to the ground. I did not belong here. I felt like an alien compared to everybody else that I saw coming in and out of the building. They did it so naturally as if they had been doing it for years but mind you, they probably had been. And I? Well I was the girl who attended a state school and lived in a working class area and associated with working class people and furthermore hadn’t the faintest idea of what or where ‘Peers entrance’ was located until three days prior. I was also the girl who at this moment felt so grateful.

This opportunity was so rare. It’s not everyday a working class girl gets invited to tea with a Baroness. Baroness Berridge. On the morning of the 15th of November 2011 it was a name I had never even heard of; however, as night struck that same date, it was a name I would by no doubt never forget. The Baroness had spent all of two minutes with me and she saw my potential. She offered me her card as she said, and I remember those words precisely “You can argue for my team anytime.”

I think I forgot to breathe as the Baroness appeared and shook my hand with a smile on her face that showed me I was welcome. She must have been able to see it in my eyes, I, who was known for her confidence and her no fear attitude, felt lost.

I listened attentively as the Baroness spoke and I could not quite fathom that I was having afternoon tea with a member of the House of Lords. More to the point, she actually cared about my view, my comments. She listened to me and seemed intrigued. She was friendly and humble and laughed just like we do and made jokes the same as anyone else. She, without a doubt convinced me that the Government does care about everyone, including the little people. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alien…

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